Up a dark alley: 1858 to 1963

Compiled and Presented by
Tim


Introduction

This work is an essay/article for history buffs and for that I make no apology, in fact it’s aimed at vampire history buffs in particular and, more widely, anyone who has an interest in the “modernity” of the aesthetic of the vampire. I offer to take you on a trip that will be at once both familiar and unknown. This isn’t a “scientific” expedition, it’s a fact, information gathering and data presentation work, it’s searching out clues to some sort of key that opens the lock to “much more than is dreamed of in our philosophies”, our Vampire philosophies and the search for that key is as important and as integral to who and what we are and where we came from, how we came to be, as any of the accumulated information we currently have. Of course, finding a key is only the first part of the dilemma, the real cruncher comes in trying to find the lock it opens.

In pretty much every town in every country in the world there is a main street, our town is no exception. The vampire sub-culture has its place in the global society of the internet, we, the denizens of that sub-culture have our favourite places in the sub-culture kind of like having our favourite pubs, nightclubs and restaurants. We regularly travel “Main Street” to and fro between our destinations and along that route we pass by the main places, the main ‘points of interest’ and so forth but just like in any other society we sometimes venture into the side streets and we experience the “non mainstream”, we come across enclaves of “differences” and new experiences, we see and visit places that are not “on the beaten track” as it were. Then there are the alleys, the little, shadowy branches that; if Main Street is the artery, are the capillaries in the modern living vampire social body.

Some of these “capillaries” are amazing, some dark, some unsavoury but in essence they all form part of the tapestry of the Vampire today.

When people think of “teaching” or “education” articles for, and about, modern living vampires they almost always gravitate to the items that are deemed necessary for the healthy, happy and “wise” existence of modern vampires. Safety, both in practice and communications, staying healthy whether you require “the blood”, “the Prana” or something other. Articles about knowing yourself and your path, knowing your strengths, discovering your potential and controlling it and so forth but one of the things that is integral to our knowledge and understanding of the archetype, and hence of ourselves, is knowing about its origins, its manifestations and its intricacies that all meld together in the one huge pot and produce what we have today.

It is often heard, “the past has nothing to do with the modern concept”, really? Then why are we called vampires? The very word was born to describe exactly what we do albeit singularly referring to blood in the initial instance, and if we are going to use the word then it is my deepest and strongest belief that every nuance of that adopted word is important to the validity of what we know today as the Modern Human Living Vampire.

We have, I would suggest, always been aware, at some level, that there is the possibility that the modern living vampire state is somehow genetic in nature, we have “reports” of elder family members being “vampiric” and hence the possibility of the handing down of the “vampire” through generations. That is one of those truths that has yet to be tested, empirically but for now that doesn’t concern us here save to suggest that the probability that if such a thing does occur then it has probably been occurring for many, many generations, not just the last two or three.

This article series is not going to be arguing any of the myriad points of the “why and wherefore” that have been dissected, stitched together, re-dissected, had the internal organs scrutinized before being re-sewn back together… you get my point I hope? No, this article series is to educate on some of the lesser known “lights” in the proverbial darkness.

Seriously, as an old high school history master of mine (c.a. 1974) once remarked, “Open your eyes, history is rich and exciting and intoxicating and she makes a wild mistress.”

Using that as a starting point the most sensible first step is to review the historical events of the time period we are considering. Not just the “vampire” history but the cultural and sociological forces in play at the time also.

Imagine you’re in a strange town, my town and I am your guide.

A World Vampcentric Timeline 1858 – 1963

1858

In France. Z.J. Piérart a psychical researcher on vampirism, and professor at the College of Maubeuge, becomes interested in the possibility of psychic attack and in a series of articles he proposes a new theory of psychic vampirism. Piérart’s work pioneered modern psychical concern with the phenomena of vampirism and opened the door to the discussion and consideration of the possibility of a “paranormal draining” of an individual by a spiritual agent.

1859

Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” is published.

1860

The British Occult Society is founded to investigate paranormal and occult matters.

Lit:
The Mysterious Stranger” by Anon. Trans. from the original German, this vampire tale appeared in the English magazine Odds and Ends in 1860.

Le Chevalier Ténèbre (Knightshade) by Paul Féval (1860) is published.

 

1864

(Img. source Wikimedia Commons)

Lithograph of a woodcut ‘Le Vampire’,

engraving by R. de Moraine, “Les tribunaux secrets” (1864).

1865

Lit: La Vampire (The Vampire Countess) by Paul Féval (1865) is published.

1867

Dominion of Canada separates from Great Britain

1870

Sir Richard F. Burton, whom published the English translation of the story collection The Vetala-Pachisi (published under the title Vikram and The Vampire) in 1870 noted of one particular passage that Kali, “Not being able to find victims, this pleasant deity, to satisfy her thirst for the curious juice, cut her own throat that the blood might spout up into her mouth”. Perhaps the first recorded reference to ‘autovampirism’.

In other “news”, “in Neustatt-an-der-Rheda (known today as Wejherowo) in Pomerania (north-west Poland) a prominent citizen named Franz von Poblocki died of tuberculosis. Two weeks later his son, Anton, also died and other relatives became ill and complained of nightmares. The surviving family members suspected vampirism and hired a local “vampyre expert” Johann Dzigielski to assist them. He decapitated the son whom was then buried with his head between his legs. Over the objections of the local priest the body of von Poblocki was exhumed and treated in a like manner.”

Also the year of Italian Unification

1871

German Unification and Bismarck comes to dominate the German Empire.

1872

“Carmilla” by Sheridan le Fanu
(Img. source: Wikipedia)

Lit: “Carmilla” by Sheridan le Fanu is published.

1874

Reports from Ceven, Ireland, tell of sheep having their throats cut and their blood drained.

Lit: La Ville Vampire (Vampire City) by Paul Féval (1874) is published.

1875

Henry Olcott and Helena Blavatsky found the Theosophical Society in New York City. Olcott speculated that occasionally when a person was buried they may not be dead but in a catatonic or trance-like state, barely alive. Olcott surmised that a person could survive for long periods in their grave by sending out their astral double to drain the blood, or “life force” from the living to remain nourished.

1880

(Img. source: controverscial.com)

Alphonsus Joseph-Mary Augustus Montague Summers is born. Summers was the author of a number of important books on the supernatural including several classic studies on vampyres.

This time period also marks, roughly, the rise of Imperialism

Lit: “After Ninety Years” by Milovan Glišić (1880) is published.

The Fate of Madame Cabanel” by Eliza Lynn Linton (1880) also published.

1882

One “vampire” case that draws attention is that of “The Blood Drawing Ghost” of County Cork, Ireland as recounted by Jeremiah Curtin.

1884

Lit: “Manor” by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1884) is published.

1890

Dion Fortune (Violet Mary Firth) born in Wales

1892

Alleged “Rhode Island Vampire” Mercy Brown dies age 19. Her death followed those of her mother and older sister. At the time, her brother, Edwin, was seriously ill and the family was desperate to save him. Family members attributed the deaths to a curse on the family and decided to dig up the bodies of the women, including Mercy, who had been buried for about a month. When Mercy’s body was exhumed, observers noted it appeared to have moved inside the coffin and blood was present in her heart and veins. Fearing she was a vampire, townspeople removed her heart and burned it on a rock before reburying her. The family dissolved the ashes in medicine and gave it to Edwin, who died two months later.

1894

Lit: “The True Story of the Vampire” by Count Stanislaus Eric Stenbock (1894) is published.

1895

Lit: “Lilith” by George MacDonald (1895) is published.

1897

Lit: “Dracula” by Bram Stoker (1897) is published.

1900

The Tomb of Sarah” by F. G. Loring (1900) is published.

1905

Revolution of 1905 and Bloody Sunday in Russia

1907

Lit: The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck (1907) is published.

1908

Lit: “Le prisonnier de la planète Mars” (The Prisoner of Mars) by Gustave Le Rouge (1908) is published which introduces a race of winged, humanoid Vampires on the planet.

1909

Lit: “La guerre des vampires” (The War of the Vampires) by Gustave Le Rouge (1909) is published,

1911

Lit: “The Lair of the White Worm” by Bram Stoker (1911) is published.

For the Blood is the Life” (1911) by F. Marion Crawford is published.

Wampir” (“The Vampire”) (1911) by Władysław Reymont is published.

1912

Lit: “The Room in the Tower” (1912) by E.F. Benson is published.

1914

The Assassination of Francis Ferdinand leads to WWI

1917

The sinking of The Lusitania brings the United States into WWI and the Revolution of 1917 brings Communism to Russia.

1918

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk takes Russia out of WWI.

1919

Marks the Treaty of Versailles.

1920

Lit: “La Jeune Vampire” (The Young Vampire), by J.-H. Rosny aîné (novella) is published.

1921

Film: “Dracula’s Death” (1921) an unlicensed Hungarian adaptation and first known film appearance of Dracula. This film has been lost since release.

1922

Sees the formation of the USSR and the rise to power of Mussolini and Italian Facism.

Film: “Nosferatu” (1922) This unlicensed German adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, features “Count Orlok”, a thinly veiled allusion to Dracula, and starred Max Schreck.

1924

Fritz Harmaann of Hanover, Germany, is arrested, tried and convicted of killing more than 20 people in a “vampiric” crime spree.

This year also sees the rise to power of Stalin in Communist Russia

1926

Montague Summers’ “The History of Witchcraft and Demonology” , appears

Year of the English General Strike.

1927

Lit: “Bewitched” (1927) by Edith Wharton is published.

1928

Montague Summers finishes his broad survey, and seminal work, “The Vampire: His Kith and Kin” , in which he traced the presence of vampyres and vampyre-like creatures in the folklore around the world, from ancient times to ‘the present’. He also surveyed the rise of the literary and dramatic vampyre.

1929

Montague Summers publishes his equally valuable “The Vampire in Europe” ,which focused on various peculiarly European vampire matters.

The Great Depression begins.

1930

(Img. source: Amazon.com)

Dion Fortune publishes one of her more popular books, “Psychic Self Defence” ,this book came from her own experiences. In her occult work Fortune had also witnessed various instances of psychic attack which she was called on to interrupt. Among the elements of a psychic attack, she noted, was “vampirism that left the victim in a state of nervous exhaustion, and a wasting state”.

1931

Peter Kurten of Dusseldorf, Germany is executed after being found guilty of murdering a number of people in a vampiric killing spree.

Lit: “The Dark Castle” (1931) by Marion Brandon is published.

(Img. source: bio.com)

Bela Lugosi (20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956)

Film: “Dracula” (1931) is the first Universal Studios (U.S.) Dracula film and starred Bela Lugosi

Simultaneously released with the Universal Studio’s version was the Spanish version “Dracula” (1931) The Spanish-language version starred Carlos Villarías, and used the same sets on a timeshare basis.

1932

Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected President of the United States.

1933

The Reichstag Fire marks the beginning of the rise to power of the Nazi Party in Germany.

Lit: “Revelations in Black” (1933) by Carl Jacobi is published.

1936

The Spanish Civil War begins.

Lit: “Lady Christina” (1936) by Mircea Eliade is published.

Film: “Dracula’s Daughter” (1936) was released as a follow up to the 1931 film “Dracula” and starred Gloria Holden.

1939 

The German invasion of Poland triggers WW II.

1943

Film: “Son of Dracula” (1943) is released as a further “sequel” to the 1931 film “Dracula” and starred Lon Chaney, Jr.

1944

D-Day, the Allied Invasion of continental Europe.

Film: House of Frankenstein (1944) – John Carradine plays Dracula as part of an ensemble cast in this Universal Studios film.

1945

WW II ends. The Potsdam Conference and the formation of the United Nations

Film; “House of Dracula” (1945) was the final serious Universal Studios Dracula film and starred John Carradine.

1946

Death of Dion Fortune, author of “Psychic Self Defence”.

1948

Israel is created by the UN.

Film: “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948) in which Bela Lugosi played Dracula in this comedy-horror hybrid that concluded the Universal Studios series.

1949

In England, John George Haigh, the infamous “Acid Bath Murderer” is hanged. He was also known as the “Vampire of London”. Haigh, claimed to have drunk the blood of his victims before destroying their bodies in a vat of sulfuric acid.

Lit: “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” (1949) by Fritz Leiber is published.

1950

The Korean War

1953

Film: “Drakula Istanbul’da” (Dracula in Istanbul) (1953) – a rarely seen Turkish film on the subject.

1954

Lit: “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson (1954) is published.

1956

(Img. source: freedom for Vietnam WordPress)

The Vietnam War, also known as the American War or the Second Indochina War begins in December

1958

Film: “Dracula” (1958) – a.k.a. “Horror of Dracula”, is the first Hammer Dracula film, starring Christopher Lee as the Count.

1960

Lit: “The Longest Night” by Ray Russell (1960) is published.

Film: “The Brides of Dracula” (1960) is the first film in the Hammer Dracula sequence which doesn’t feature Lee in the lead role.

1962

The Count Dracula Society is founded in the United States by Donald Reed.
The year of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

1963
A nuclear arms treaty, The Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) is signed and ratified by the governments of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States during the fall of 1963. It prohibited all test detonations of nuclear weapons except underground.

November 22, 1963 and American president John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

 

 The Modernity Cube

French poet Charles Pierre Baudelaire (April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867) was also noted for his work as an essayist, art critic, and translator of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. He is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) in reference to the responsibilities that he believed art held.

The term, modernity, can be further defined into two distinctly conceptual periods of time, being;

Classical modernity c.a. 1789–1900, corresponding to the long 19th century in Eric Hobsbawm’s scheme, and Late modernity c.a. 1900–1989 [1]

Indeed, one of Baudelaire’s own works bore direct, and not initially successful links, to the Vampire of Modernity.

Les métamorphoses du vampire

La femme cependant, de sa bouche de fraise,

En se tordant ainsi qu’un serpent sur la braise,

Et pétrissant ses seins sur le fer de son busc,

Laissait couler ces mots tout imprégnés de musc:

” Moi, j’ai la lèvre humide, et je sais la science

De perdre au fond d’un lit l’antique conscience.

Je sèche tous les pleurs sur mes seins triomphants,

Et fais rire les vieux du rire des enfants.

Je remplace, pour qui me voit nue et sans voiles,

La lune, le soleil, le ciel et les étoiles !

Je suis, mon cher savant, si docte aux Voluptés,

Lorsque j’étouffe un homme en mes bras redoutés,

Ou lorsque j’abandonne aux morsures mon buste,

Timide et libertine, et fragile et robuste,

Que sur ces matelas qui se pâment d’émoi,

Les anges impuissants se damneraient pour moi ! ”

 

Quand elle eut de mes os sucé toute la moelle,

Et que languissamment je me tournai vers elle

Pour lui rendre un baiser d’amour, je ne vis plus

Qu’une outre aux flancs gluants, toute pleine de pus !

Je fermai les deux yeux, dans ma froide épouvante,

Et quand je les rouvris à la clarté vivante,

A mes côtés, au lieu du mannequin puissant

Qui semblait avoir fait provision de sang,

Tremblaient confusément des débris de squelette,

Qui d’eux-mêmes rendaient le cri d’une girouette

Ou d’une enseigne, au bout d’une tringle de fer,

Que balance le vent pendant les nuits d’hiver. [2]

 

The Vampire’s Metamorphoses (Eng. Trans.)

Meanwhile from her red mouth the woman, in husky tones,

Twisting her body like a serpent upon hot stones

And straining her white breasts from their imprisonment,

Let fall these words, as potent as a heavy scent:

“My lips are moist and yielding, and I know the way

To keep the antique demon of remorse at bay.

All sorrows die upon my bosom. I can make

Old men laugh happily as children for make.

For him who sees me naked in my tresses, I

Replace the sun, the moon, and all the stars of the sky!

Believe me, learned sir, I am so deeply skilled

That when I wind a lover in my soft arms, and yield

My breasts like two ripe fruits for his devouring — both

Shy and voluptuous, insatiable and loath —

Upon this bed that groans and sighs luxuriousiy

Even the impotent angels would be damned for me!”

 

When she had drained me of my very marrow, and cold

And weak, I turned to give her one more kiss — behold,

There at my side was nothing but a hideous

Putrescent thing, ail faceless and exuding pus.

I closed my eyes and mercifully swooned till day:

 

And when I looked at morning for that beast of prey

Who seemed to have replenished her arteries from my own,

The wan, disjointed fragments of a skeleton

Wagged up and down in a lewd posture where she had lain,

Rattling with each convulsion like a weathervane

Or an old sign that creaks upon its bracket, right

Mournfully in the wind upon a winter’s night.

Of Charles Baudelaire we discover that his most famous work, regarded as being “Les Fleurs du mal” (The Flowers of Evil), expresses, ostensibly, the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century. [3]

Due to the nature of some of the material in the original publication Baudelaire, and the publisher, were prosecuted under “outrage aux bonnes mœurs” (an insult to public decency) laws and Baudelaire, individually, was fined 300 francs.

Six poems from the work were suppressed and the ban on their publication was not lifted in France until 1949. These poems were “Lesbos“, “Femmes damnés (À la pâle clarté)” (or “Women Doomed” (In the pale glimmer…) “Le Léthé” (or “Lethe”), “À celle qui est trop gaie” (or “To Her Who Is Too Gay”), “Les Bijoux” (or “The Jewels”), and lastly but by no means least, “Les Métamorphoses du Vampire” (or “The Vampire’s Metamorphoses”).

The paradoxical nature of the work was highlighted by Victor Hugo’s comments upon reading “Le Cygne” (“The Swan”) from the volume. Of this particular piece Hugo declared that Baudelaire had created, “un nouveau frisson“, (a new shudder, a new thrill) in literature. The volume, first published in 1857 was an important icon to the symbolist and modernist movements, the overriding subject matter of these poems dealing with themes of decadence and eroticism.

In her treatise “British and European Aesthetes, Decadents and Symbolists”, Valerie Hsiung offers us insights into the poet in “Baudelaire Bound by Naturalism in Metamorphoses of the Vampire” [4]

 

Stepping out of one of the newer alleys in my town into one of the ‘Older Quarter’ for a moment, the tale, “The Skeleton Count”, or “The Vampire Mistress” of 1828 by Elizabeth Caroline Grey is generally regarded as a milestone in vampire literature as it is believed to have been the first vampire story published by a woman. [5]

In the “Modernity” of Vampire fiction we can trace a path in vampire fiction that moved beyond traditional Gothic horror and explored new genres such as science fiction. An early example of this is Gustave Le Rouge’s Le prisonnier de la planète Mars (1908) and its sequel La guerre des vampires (1909), in which a native race of bat-winged, blood-drinking humanoids is found on Mars.

In the 1920 novella “La Jeune Vampire” (The Young Vampire), by J.-H. Rosny aîné, vampirism is explained as a form of possession by souls originating in another universe known simply as The Beyond. [5]

Prof. Nina J. Auerbach is the John Welsh Centennial Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, and takes what has been described as a, “Sometimes bewitchingly erotic, sometimes repellent, sometimes ravenous” look at how “vampires embody their societies’ fears and forbidden dreams.

It is further said that, “In this wry, original book, literary critic and vampire enthusiast Nina Auerbach shows how every age embraces the vampire it needs and, at the same time, gets the vampire it deserves.”

The book is entitled “Our Vampires, Ourselves

 

Surrealism, Irrealism or Melancholy Euphemism? ~ Modernity Art

A term that is rarely heard is Irrealism, it’s a term that one might find employed in writers discoursing on such diverse topics as philosophy, literature and art and it is generally employed as a descriptor of specific modes of “unreality” and/or problems encountered in properly defining reality.

It does sound a lot like our sub-culture doesn’t it?

The American philosopher Henry Nelson Goodman used it to refer to a specific position in philosophy whereas in art and literature it has been used to cover a wide range of movements.

Though the standard dictionary definition of irreal gives it the same meaning as unreal, irreal is very rarely used in comparison with unreal. Thus, it has generally been used to describe something which, while unreal, is so in a very specific or unusual fashion, usually one emphasizing not just the “not real,” but some form of estrangement from our generally accepted sense of reality”. [6]

It’s sounding more and more like our sub-culture the deeper into the alley we go, no?

If you google the term “Vampire art images” you will get about 40,400,000 results in around 0.34 seconds, not bad but these images are majority ruled by Pop and Fanpop images, popular fictional entertainment images and the like. If you Google “Vampire Fine Art” you’ll get pretty much the same and let’s face it folks, apart from The Buffyists, The Twihards, The Lestat Army, The TB’s and Vampire Diaries fans where is the Vampire in fine art? In fact, what is “Fine” art and where do Vampires fit in with it?

One of the most often referred to ‘fine art’ examples of ‘Vampire’ art is the 1895 painting, shown above, of Norwegian artist and Printmaker Edvard Munch called, erroneously, “Vampire”.

(Img. source: Ellen Kwatnoski)

The painting was originally titled “Love and Pain“, however, a somewhat highly regarded critic named Stanislaw Przybyszewski mistakenly interpreted this painting as being vampiric in theme and content. The painting only became known as “Vampire” following this critical assessment of it. The woman in the painting is actually consoling her lover, not sucking his blood.

 

Another artist that did treat, if only fleetingly, the Vampire theme was the Spanish-Mexican para-surrealist artist Remedios Varo (December 16, 1908 – October 8, 1963)

Two works of hers, entitled “Vampiro” and “Vampiros vegetarianos” reveal, at once, both the iconic aesthetic of the vampire but add surrealistic symbolism to the subject. Notice the common motif in the first painting that is reminiscent of Dracula delivering the infant to his three “brides” during Jonathan Harker’s imprisonment at his castle[7] as opposed to the ‘surrealistic’ image of three vegetarian vampires at mealtime.

“Vampiro”
by Remedios Varo

 

(Img. source: Mystical Surrealism on Angelfire)

María de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga

(December 16, 1908 – October 8, 1963)

 

The new modernity

 

As a tasty aside to this little jaunt a most exceptional treatment of, “The vampire in modern American media” can be found at the following links ~ enjoy…

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~elektra/thesis.html

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~elektra/index2.html

 

In conclusion, fellow alley walkers;

The Earth formed around 4.54 billion years ago, arguably the first indications of belief in the vampire mythos seemed to appear at around 3200 b.c. amongst Cuneiform writings found in Sumeria. They’ve been around a long time and never very far below the surface.

It is well, and commonly, known that every country in the world, every civilization, has some form of the Vampire in its culture and mythology and this powerful motif has, quite naturally, permeated all levels of society in some way. The purpose of this series of work, for me, is to turn a microscope onto the “eras” of the Vampire aesthetic and demonstrate why this “horrific, evil, undead monster” has endured and is moving strongly forward in the 21st Century in other ways.

It is my hope that you, dear reader, have gleaned some knowledge, perhaps a surprise but above all a greater appreciation of the fact that “stepping off Main Street” and going by way of side streets and alleys can sometimes be a productive and interesting experience.

 

References and further reading:

Revue Spiritualiste ; Z.J. Piérart

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernity#Phases_of_modernity
  2. http://www.bacdefrancais.net/metamorphoses-du-vampire-baudelaire.php
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Baudelaire
  4. Valerie Hsiung ’11, Englis 151, Pre-Raphaelites Aesthetes, and Decadentshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire_literature#Eighteenth_century
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irrealism_%28the_arts%29
  6. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/345/345-h/345-h.htm

 

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